Sunday, June 15, 2008

Human Decency Test

This week's news has been dominated by two events. A third event attracted not nearly as much attention.

Event 1:

Alleged bad behaviour by Federal Labor MP Belinda Neal and her NSW Minister husband John della Bosca. Decency? Enough said - there has been a mountain of material published. (Photo:

Event 2:

The Footy Show (Channel 9) host Paul Vautin ridiculed a bouncer who talked with difficulty when an "interviewer" thrust a microphone almost in his mouth and where the lights and camera also caused visible distress. Vautin said, " ... that bloke was blind. He could hardly talk." The securiy guard concerned has a mild disability which affects his speech, and his eye movements.

It took not one, but three days for Vautin (Photo: to apologise, and for Channel 9 to remove the footage from its website. It's now available on the Internet forever, having been cached on other servers. None of the others involved have apologised. Vautin says: "We thought it was quite funny, the whole thing, and we wanted to make light of it . . . I would be the last person to ever bag someone who has a mental handicap" (he has a brother with Down syndrome).

Nevertheless, part of the ethos of the show is to embarrass and belittle as many people as possible because "it's funny"! Decency?

Event 3:
A French woman, Marie-Paul de Massiet, 81, donates some of her land to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, after excavations confirmed a mass grave of up to 400 soldiers from at least Australia & Britain. They were killed during the Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916. (Photo: Wad Laube, on
Following a memorial service this week, Ms Massiet donated the land to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Good on her!

At last, a story of human decency this week.

What a pity this story doesn't have the same amount of discussion as the other, "sensational" stories! We are a poorer society and community for our greater infatuation with celebrities and bad behaviour, than for our recognition of human decency.